RICHMOND, Va. -- In a year that’s seen high crime, civil unrest and police retaliation, Richmond’s law enforcement community came out in large numbers Monday night to ask city leaders for help.
Several officers attended Monday night’s city council meeting in a show of support and listened as an advocate with Richmond United for Law Enforcement spoke to city leaders about the need for higher salaries and more funding for specialized training.
According to police advocate, Cheryl Ann Nici-O’Connell, Richmond officers are facing long hours, low morale, and are the lowest paid in Metro Richmond.
She says the starting salary for a Richmond police officer is $40,000, yet Richmond officers face the highest risks working in a capital city.
With dwindling recruitment and officers transferring to neighboring jurisdictions, O’Connell argued that Richmond is currently facing a shortage of 70 police officers.
She says the deficit is not only placing more stress on officers, but putting the community at risk.
“We have 680 officers, we are supposed to have 750,” O’Connell said. “You have officers responding to calls without backup or backup is coming from across the city. These citizens need to come together to support their police officers. They’re not asking for take home cars like the other jurisdictions, they’re just asking for fair pay.”
O’Connell says that officers will continue their pleas once Mayor-Elect Lavar Stoney and his administration takes over City Hall in January.
Richmond officer Trishonda Chasteen says that officers need a change in direction.
“There’s a lot of backlash against officers and the way we do our job. The fact that we’re constantly ambushed and attacked,” Chasteen said. “It’s not the most glamorous job on the face of the earth and it’s hard to get people to come onboard.”